Everything that farmer Graham Hess (Mel Gibson) assumed about the world is changed when he discovers a message -- an intricate pattern of circles and lines -- carved into his crops.
Review by Simon Remark


This page was created on July 1, 2002
This page was last updated on January 9, 2005

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Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
Screenplay by M. Night Shyamalan

Click to enlargeMel Gibson .... Father Graham Hess
Joaquin Phoenix .... Merrill Hess
Rory Culkin .... Morgan Hess
Abigail Breslin .... Bo Hess
rest of cast listed alphabetically
Cherry Jones .... Officer Caroline Paski
Patricia Kalember .... Colleen Hess
Jose L. Rodriguez .... Radio Host

Produced by
Kathleen Kennedy .... executive producer
Frank Marshall .... producer
Sam Mercer .... producer
M. Night Shyamalan .... producer

Original music by James Newton Howard

Cinematography by Tak Fujimoto

Film Editing by Barbara Tulliver

MPAA: Rated PG-13 for some frightening moments.
For rating reasons, go to FILMRATINGS.COM, and MPAA.ORG.
Parents, please refer to PARENTALGUIDE.ORG

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It's Not Like They Didn't Warn Us.
Click to enlargeEverything that farmer Graham Hess (Mel Gibson) assumed about the world is changed when he discovers a message ? an intricate pattern of circles and lines ? carved into his crops. As he investigates the unfolding mystery, what he finds will forever alter the lives of his brother (Joaquin Phoenix) and children (Rory Culkin, Abigail Breslin). Writer-director M. Night Shyamalan takes moviegoers on a new journey this August with his film "Signs," a unique story that explores the mysterious real-life phenomena of crop signs and the effects they have on one man and his family. Shyamalan re-teams with producers Frank Marshall, Sam Mercer, and Kathleen Kennedy, and produces the project under his Blinding Edge Pictures banner along with Touchstone Pictures.

Review by

Film Reviewer
Simon graduated from Trinity Western University where he studied film under prolific screenwriter Ned Vankevich. He prefers independent and lower-budget films.
Click to enlargeSigns is much more than an alien invasion flick or a film about the crop circle mystery, although it uses both as a catalyst for the actual theme: faith and the fact that everything happens for a reason, even tragedy. Mel Gibson plays Graham Hess, a former Reverend (some townsfolk still call him Father) who lost his faith in God when he lost his wife in a freak car accident six months ago. He lives in rural Pennsylvania with his two young children and younger brother Merrill (superbly played by Joaquin Phoenix), who moved in for support when he lost his wife.

Click to enlargeThe film begins with Graham and his family discovering large, inexplicable circles in their crops. And while the suspense surrounding these circles does not let up for the entire picture, it’s Graham’s inner struggle with God and his faith that is the driving conflict throughout. Even though the crop circles are appearing the world over, he is convinced, or has at least attempted to convince himself, that humans are alone in the world and there is no higher power, nothing to take comfort in.

Click to enlargeThe scenes of the Hess family gathered around the TV reminded me of September 11, 2001. The sense of connection you feel with people around the world, knowing that at the same moment they too are glued to the TV, feeling the same sense of hopelessness, fear, sadness and anxiety, but for Graham it’s mostly hopelessness as he has lost his faith in God. While watching the global crisis, Graham talks of two kinds of people: those who believe in miracles, and those who believe things just happen for no particular reason. And after seeing his wife die and utter what he believed to be senseless babble while she was dying, Graham says he’s the latter.

Click to enlargeThere are a couple powerful scenes in the film that elucidate Graham’s anger with God. One occurs around the dinner table when his son asks if they can say a prayer. Graham lashes out exclaiming he will not waist another minute of his life on prayer. His son tells him he hates him but is quick to hug and forgive his father. And the first time we see Graham talk to God is to tell Him he hates Him, as he holds his struggling asthmatic son in his arms: “Don’t do this to me again. I hate you, don’t you do this to me again,” he says. It is scenes like these that make the ending so moving.

Click to enlargeM. Night Shyamalan is shaping up to be an extraordinary filmmaker. His films deal with the supernatural with an aura of believability. I have enjoyed each of his first three features (his first two were The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable) but I think Signs is his best yet. It has a fantastic blend of mystery, suspense, humor and warmth. The eerily shot film makes good use of camera angles and lighting to intensify the subject matter. But most importantly Shyamalan tells a great story about family, faith and the possibility of a higher power. Signs is one of the most spiritual, faith-affirming films I have seen in a while.

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